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Bits: No 1 Lounge discounts, Norwegian switches to Miami and San Francisco, Avios South Africa closing

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News in brief:

Save money on No 1 Lounges

If you don’t have airport lounge access via your flight ticket, your elite status, via a Priority Pass card from American Express Platinum or via a Lounge Club card from American Express Goldyour best fall-back option is usually No 1 Lounges.

No 1 Lounges is the largest network of premium independent lounges in the UK.  We have reviewed most of them (click for the review):

All lounges include free hot food, free drinks (some premium food and drinks carries an extra charge), free newspapers and magazines and free wi-fi.  A new second site at Birmingham opened this week as we covered here.

moneysavingexpert.com is running an exclusive discount code for No 1 Lounges as you may have seen in their weekly newsletter.  Here is the pricing, which will vary based on the date and time you want to visit:

  • Birmingham – £16.80 – £22.40 (was £28) PLUS free fast-track security
  • Birmingham Clubrooms – £21 – £28 (was £35) PLUS free fast-track security
  • Edinburgh – £15.60 – £20.80 (was £26) PLUS free fast-track security
  • Gatwick North and South – £14.40 – £32 (was £24 – 40) depending on lounge PLUS free fast-track security
  • Heathrow Terminal 3 – £19.20 – £25.60 (was £32)
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 – £27 – £36 (was £45)

This offer must be booked by midnight on 9th December, for lounge visits up to 31st December.

You must book via this special page of the No 1 site and use code MSEGIFT2019 at check-out.

However, you might get a better deal by using code NO1GIFT on the standard No 1 Lounges booking page here.  You need to test it out lounge by lounge.

Norwegian drops Oakland

Norwegian begins to drop secondary airports

Norwegian has announced two changes to its US network which indicate a change of strategy.

Older readers will remember that, when Ryanair launched, it focused on flying to random airports in the middle of nowhere.  Hamburg flights went to Lubeck, for example.  The majority of these routes have been dropped because business passengers refused to fly them and even most tourists eventually wised up to the downsides of a long and pricey bus ride from the airport.

Norwegian has had the same revelation.  From 31st March, flights from London Gatwick to Oakland will switch to San Francisco.  Flights from Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale will switch to Miami.

The airline is citing cargo demand as one reason for the switch.  Even if passengers are willing to take the train from Oakland to San Francisco, cargo needs to delivered directly to the handling agent.

British Airways has already dropped its ‘spoiler’ service from Gatwick to Oakland.  It remains to be seen if the plug will now be pulled on Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale as well.

Avios closing down its South African programme

Avios Group has announced that its South African programme is closing on 31st May 2019.

As with the closure of Avios Travel Rewards Programme in the UK, members are being encouraged to open a British Airways Executive Club account and transfer their balance.  Members will also be able to transfer points to Kulula, the South African low cost carrier, and use them for a discount on a future flight.

This appears to be a messier process than the closure of the UK scheme.  Whilst the UK scheme was almost a straight transfer to BAEC with few partner losses, South African residents are losing virtually all of their collection opportunities.  Partnerships including BP South Africa and the Pick n Pay supermarket chain, as well as the Avios credit card in SA, are being wound down.

It isn’t clear if there will still be any way of collecting Avios via Kulula flights in South Africa after 31st May.

You can find out more details on the Avios South Africa site here.

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Comments

  1. O/T Just had a notification from Amex that my £20 off £150 Avis offer has triggered. Presumably from a fuel pre-auth for a rental I’m picking up later today.

    Likelihood of the cashback sticking? And anything I can do to help it? 😉

    • Shoestring says:

      Likelihood = excellent. Highly unlikely to claw it back.

      • Jovanna says:

        It didn’t stick when a pre-authorisation hit my account. However, it did trigger following the next rental when the cumulative spend for the two went over the £150 target.

    • I’ll report back. Don’t think I’ll hit the spend target with real spend.

      Either way I’m happy, because I got an upgrade from C to a F! if only I actually needed a car this weekend…

  2. Michael Fox says:

    O/T – apologies, need some quick advice and this is the best place for that. I have a multi night IHG rewards night stay coming up. If I cancel in advance, I get a refund of my points. What if I check out early, will I get a points refund for the remaining nights? I need to modify stay, the modify stay option not working and if I re-book from scratch, reward nights are no longer available. I have 5 nights booked, only now want the first two.

    • Genghis says:

      IME I’ve had more cancelled stays then return to inventory than not.

    • I don’t think you can cancel half way through a stay. Once you’ve checked in that’s it, the points are not refundable.

    • Lady London says:

      I think I saw somewhere that how this is handled can vary from hotel and the suggestion was just to call the hotel.

      I think your situation is about the simplest and easiest one for a hotel to accommodate if it wants to – as you are arriving on the day you said and using continuous adjacent nights. You just want to drop a few nights off the end.

      I’d give them a ring and ask if the can help and would they be willing to let you drop the last few nights off the booking and maintain the original rate for nights as booked. If they agree please let us know . Get an email or something from them in writing becuase you never know who you will get when you check in.

  3. C F Frost says:

    O/T Others may have noticed but not sure if mentioned here – Marriott Rewards More has bitten the dust. Always seemed moribund, and finally slipped away two weeks ago.

    • Lady London says:

      It kept my points alive once I think. So did have at least one use!

      Other ways of spending with hotel groups are always useful to have in case your stay pattern makes it difficult to use nights with them for awhile.

  4. O/T Iberia bonus.
    Well it’s 1st Dec and I hurriedly spent 84k of my Iberia bonus Avios yesterday (on Iberia flights). The remaining 6k are still in my Iberia account!

    • Genghis says:

      I doubt there’d be an automated process in place. The Excel wiz-kid comes in at 11am CET…

      • IB sweep all accounts on the first of each month. That’s how I lost 42500 due to inactivity after I had cancelled a booking due to IB changing dates of flight.. I was able to retrieve the Avios when they accepted that removing the Avios within a few days of THEM cancelling part of the booking was unfair.

        • Lady London says:

          Iberia did precisely that to me. My booking was made with these miles back in July using up all the ones I had. Recently Iberia advised me the first flight on my booking (Air Nostrum deliberately chosen so as to avoid non-changeability of flight of Vueling) was cancelled. so the first flight on the version of rebooking they proposed, was 3 and a half hours later than the original flight I’d booked.

          The resulting itinerary they’d rebooked me on was scary in that it had 2 flight connections with no margin for any lateness at all on the incoming flight and far too long to walk to a remote bus gate at Heathrow T5 . It just made MCT at T5. Given distances in T5 with luggage and dodgy knee, even arriving on time incoming I was highly at risk of missing the one longhaul to my destination left that day. Other alternatives all involved arriving at the other end of the longhaul 1 day later. EU261 600 euros might have turned out to be claimable as delay would for sure have been 6 – 24 hours. But not necessrily and as it was a very short longhaul trip it would have meant coming back practically as soon as I had arrived. And not being able to achieve the purpose of the trip!

          When I requested a more sensible re-route that miraculously was available, that left a lot longer between flights to allow for late incoming planes etc., Iberia flatly refused to consider it. I mentioned this was an involuntary reroute caused by their 3 and a half hour change in timing but Iberia flatly refused to allow any suggestion for change to their new version of my booking that had high risk of missing 2 connections and arriving a day later wihch would have made the trip without purpose for me.

          In the end they forced me to refund the ticket by their intransigence. I am looking into whether I can make a complaint to the regulator about Iberia’s refusal to even consider a reasonable rerouting under EU involuntary rerouting provisions. The refund came back on 29th November 1 day before the miles had to be used. I did manage to move them to BA and, after speaking to one unskilled agent, found another agent that took 20min to rebook the whole thing onto an alternative itinerary that doesn’t have the risks Iberia tried to load onto me due to their rescheduling of my itinerary.

          All that stress and aggro was due to Iberia commercial reasons and not operational reasons, so far as I can tell, as I discovered American was still selling seats on my originally booked flight that Iberia told me was “cancelled”,

          Do you think I’m going to South America next year, as I had planned, with Iberia, now? !! Incompetent unhelpful agents, on 13 out of 14 calls trying to resolve this and retain the particularly hard to get bits of my original booking after they rescheduled.

    • My wife’s have disappeared, I was going to spend them today😩

      • Shoestring says:

        Really! That’s what they said would happen but I assumed it would take a day or so.

        • I only had 29k left in my account and those have gone as well.
          It was only worth using them from Spain to London because the flights were more expensive departing London.

        • Shoestring says:

          Checked my wife’s – she redeemed about 89K, the rest are at BAEC – and it’s a zero balance (not minus 1K)

        • Shoestring says:

          @Yuff – didn’t fancy a few hotel nights then? I was finding it tough to burn 180K as my wife couldn’t get her act together on summer hols dates, but 3 nights in Sevilla burned up the difference.

          Was forced to book a couple of business redemptions for myself & the lad to get through a few more 🙂

          T3 lounge crawl here we come lol

        • I was trying to book lots of flights yesterday but couldn’t find the availability I needed or it was lots my expensive than BAEC LON – PMI
          I will email,saying they were due to expire today but I thought I would be able to spend them up until today.
          I’ve been trying to spend them all week, I didn’t think they’d be gone today😩

        • Shoestring says:

          @Yuff – your argument will have to be that their English was indeed imprecise. ‘By December 1st’ *does not* mean the same as ‘antes del 1o de diciembre’. Ie the translation of the T&Cs into English was inexact for a rule that needed to be very exactly conveyed.

          https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/1250375-what-exactly-does-by-december-1st-mean.html

        • It could be argued that by december 1 is december 1…. but in the reminder e-mail (sent one month ago?), they clearly said before december 1.

          And in this case, since it is Iberia Plus, Spanish T&C are above English T&C.

        • Lady London says:

          Don;t go by anything in Iberia’s so-called “reminder” emails they basically contained attempts to introduce new conditions/ restrictions on use of the avios that were NOT in the original promotion information provided by them at the time people used the promotion to purchase.

          IME they would for sure lose in a court of law if anyone challenged them and I believe the very fact that they tried illegally to introduce more restrictivie conditions on how the avios from tickets bought in the promo could be used, would particularly make a judge award against them.

          Apart from being illegal it was scabby and dishonourable of Iberia to try to do this which matters even more.

        • With love:

          “Special offer of an extra 9,000 Avios for each ticket purchased between 21 and 24 June 2018 (maximum of 90,000 promotional Avios per member) on iberia.com for a flight operated by Iberia, Iberia Express or Air Nostrum. The Avios will be added within 10 days of the purchase to the Iberia Plus account of all customers identified as members of the Iberia Plus programme during the purchase process.

          If the customer requests a refund, either because it is permitted by the fare or for any other reason, the promotional Avios will be withdrawn from their account. The extra promotional Avios not redeemed by 1 December 2018 will be withdrawn from the customer’s account. The redemption terms and conditions are subject to the general terms and conditions of the Iberia Plus programme.

          For example, if a customer purchases tickets on Iberia.com for three people to fly from Seville to Madrid and two of the people are identified as Iberia Plus members during the purchase process, 9,000 Avios will be credited to both of these people within 10 days of the purchase. These two people must have redeemed at least 9,000 Avios by 1 December 2018, or this same amount of Avios will be withdrawn from their account.”

          Read this sentence again: “The redemption terms and conditions are subject to the general terms and conditions of the Iberia Plus programme.” If you didn’t bother to read the IbPlus T&C I can tell you that explicitly hey say “Transfers to BAEC, Avios,…” are not considered redemption.

        • Shoestring says:

          @Yuff – your second argument could be that you wanted to redeem the points last night before midnight – ie you had an extra hour before Spanish time cutoff.

          They robbed you of 1hr.

          More if you were in USA as IB didn’t specify they were using midnight in Spain, 30th November as the cutoff point.

      • I mean,,, this is s*t*u*p*i*d…. shoestring has, many many many many times reminded that yesterday (Nov 30) was the last day.

        • More to it perhaps. Maybe some people didn’t leave it too late, rather not everyone bought the cheapest tickets they could find on the first day of the promotion. Then some people had a delay in having them credited whilst those who had them credited were snapping up the popular routes/hotels etc. Then there’s how far in advance bookings were open, how long it took to get through to Iberia’s CS for a useful response to missing points, difficulty logging in tripped many people up.

      • Just checked my wife and she’s still here 🙁

    • All 90k currently still in my BAEC account after moving over using combine my avios, so far so good.

      • Shoestring says:

        Yep I think they’re highly unlikely to get clawed back from BAEC. Might happen if the planned combining of BAEC & Iberia Avios platforms ever happens.

        If people start running a -90K balance in IB, I’d think about closing the account, you can always open a new one when you renew your passport (or use a different passport number if 2 passports).

        • Margaret says:

          Lost 28K unspent avios too, and it looks like they weren’t ‘tagged’. I transferred avios in and out a few times to Avios.com, and I can’t believe that only the Iberia ones moved from a relatively large pot in my Avios account.

          I reckon I’ve had about £800 value for a £260 spend, which is great. I’ve two teenagers sitting exams next year, we have to be home for two consecutive weeks in August for results days, so pinned down to early August as an option. Feb. and Easter holidays will have to be for revision, and the idea of a holiday in the busiest and most expensive summer week didn’t appeal!

        • It’s not clear that closing the Iberia account will make the debt go away forever. It could always raise it’s ugly head later and without notice through another channel.

    • I transferred all £90k to BAEC. My Iberia account is now showing -90 000. Not really fazed. I quickly used the Avios and my 2 4 1 voucher last night just as precautionary measure!

      • Shoestring says:

        Interesting. Sounds like they might have applied a ‘grace’ limit as my wife’s a/c isn’t showing -1K and somebody else said they didn’t get the 6K removed that were sitting there that they couldn’t use.

        • Shoestring says:

          Somebody on FT has got -750 showing, so maybe they just haven’t ‘swept’ our a/cs yet?

        • I moved 90K to BAEC, and then back to IB when I wanted to use them. I used 89,600, and today my IB account is -400. I’m actually quite impressed they where so organised about it.

        • Yeah it’s impressive! Seems they were far more organised about cancelling unused avios than they were about awarding them.

          No idea how they’re going to claw them back – can’t see any logical way of doing this. Will definitely try close my Iberia account, but I imagine they’ll say I can’t do that until I have a balance of 0 Avios.

          Will be interesting to see what transpires over the next few months! But for now, I bagged 2 x CW Off Peak tickets to Cancun thanks mostly to those miles. Great value!

        • I was happy with the promo, stupid the way they did it, all those booked seats with no one flying, but good from the customer perspective. If you do lose the unspent ones you can hardly complain, it was clear use or lose by 1st Dec.

        • As a data point. I have had 100 points removed (couldn’t find a use for the last 100) so it seems that no amount is too small.

        • Shoestring, which hotel in Seville did you go for? Thinking of going spring next year and would be interested to hear how it went.

        • Shoestring says:

          Can’t report back until October! Went for 2 different places – the Hilton as they arrive late then one of the Green Apartments close to the historic centre, you get a proper apartment with full kitchen for the same price as the Hilton plus no need to faff around, all within walking distance.

        • @Shoestring – LOL October may be a little out of my time line. I’ll take a look at Green Apartments thanks.

      • The amount I transferred to BAEC still seems safe for now. Iberia account has updated to show – 88,000 which I thought was odd. Turns out the 2,000 avios Groupon offer finally made it into my account but it had taken so long that I’d forgotten and lost them with the -90,000. Shows how easy it is to flush money down the toilet. I guess it’s insignificant if the avios transferred to BA stay put.

    • Data point 2: -89,999 points (I had left 1 in my account after moving the rest to BAEC). Had transferred in a stash to redeem on Iberia flights, but after losing a few hours (and a piece of my soul) navigating the CAPTCHAs and website crashes over the past few days, gave up. A shame.

      • Genghis says:

        Yep. I spent 89,450 on hotels. Moved 550 to BAEC to bring my IB+ acct to zero. Ran AW just now and my balance is -550.

        • So what are people going to do with their IB accounts? Presumably those who have a big deficit aren’t going to want to earn any IB avios to have them just disappear into the hole!

        • Anna – I closed my IB account a month or so ago. I am due a new passport soon, so will open a new IB account when that arrives, and start the 90 day ticker going so I am ready for their next trick!

        • I love reading about what you hardcore HFP-ers manage to achieve!

  5. Benylin says:

    OT: At Terminal 4 LHR, used the Plaza Lounge at 7am, empty and very nice, halal food as well! Then went to SkyTeam lounge, not as nice, bit more busy, but wife getting spa treatment done so not too bad!

    Overall would recommend Plaza Lounge if you want to relax.

    • Was spa chargeable?

      • Benylin says:

        No was complimentary for a 20 minute session. Wife just got out of spa, she said 6/10. It was ok but the person wasn’t putting in much effort 😂

    • Have they got humanely slaughtered meat as well?

      • Charlieface says:

        I love the self-righteous indignation going on here where people don’t know all the facts.
        It so happens that prestunning animals often causes them agony (it’s basically either tasering or clubbing by captive-bolt and often doesn’t work properly, I’ll leave you to think about that).
        Non-halal/kosher meat is usually slaughtered by either a more powerful taser or captive-bolt, gassing or gunshot. Halal and kosher slaughter is only done on the types of animals where the carotid arteries join in the centre of the neck and therefore cutting the throat induces almost instant fainting. Kosher slaughtering also mandates a very sharp knife, almost like a surgeon’s scalpel, which can barely be felt if done correctly.
        A side benefit is obviously no horse-meat mixed in!

        • Shoestring says:

          Done properly, both halal & non-halal usually means the animal is slaughtered (brain dead) or senseless/ unconscious in 15 seconds.

    • Halal food? Will boycott in that case.

      • Quite a lot of meat in the catering trade in the UK now is halal, just not openly labelled as such.

        • Shoestring says:

          ISTR all NZ lamb is halal

        • A lot in the UK is halal. When I moved to London, the first year I worked at different food outlets… and 99.9% was halal. Nevertheless, we were instructed to say “it wasn’t halal”.

        • I think it’s wide open for a large prosecution then. The law clearly states that kosher and halal slaughter is only only permitted where ‘the meat must be intended for consumption by Jews or Muslims‘ – which you are saying is not the case? https://www.gov.uk/guidance/halal-and-kosher-slaughter

        • Shoestring says:

          Slaughtered in NZ wouldn’t count

        • Some halal meat is actually pre-stunned. There is a school of thought which holds that animals which are pre-stunned can still be ritually pure as long as other rituals are carried out.

          All animal suffering is deplorable, however if we all became vegans tomorrow most livestock would end up being slaughtered anyway because it would not be economically viable to care for it.

        • My meat comes from 3 miles away. Smallholding with a shop run by a lovely couple who started off keeping chickens and grew a small business from selling spare eggs to neighbours. I know the animals are treated well. The butcher/farmer can even tell you the name of the beast the meat comes from, as they usually kill one of everything each week. They breed Dexters and Gloucester Old Spots, and the meat tastes delicious. Well hung beef and definitely not Halal. Shame he can’t slaughter on site and avoid the stress and CO2 emissions of transporting the animals to the abattoir.

          Best of all, he takes Amex and is in Shop Small. Two years today since I started shopping with him, and I spend about half my food budget there.

      • Shawn C says:

        Nothing humane about killing animals.

      • I guess you dont fly any of the middle eastern airlines or visit those countries or perhaps you turn vegetarian when you do? The steak on EK first is very good for plane food.

  6. Sussex bantam says:

    Rob – just a heads up – I’m still getting frequent occurnaces of the web page rather than the mobile page on iOS

  7. OT: At a HI last night, no charges to room permitted because of a ‘cyber attack’ that was affecting 21 sites!

  8. Mikeact says:

    Sorry to have received notice from Avios SA that they are pulling the plug. At least I can now move my pile over to my BA account, which you weren’t able to do.

    • I tried this, but failed, probably due to different addresses. However Avios SA moved easily to my UK based Iberia Plus account.

  9. I flew out from Oakland once after staying in San Francisco, didn’t find it any more difficult to get to than SFO using public transport. I guess people would automatically put San Francisco airport into a search engine rather than Oakland.

    Frankfurt Weeze still seems to be going, I’ve managed to avoid it on all visits so far.

    • RussellH says:

      I am sad to see OAK being dropped – much better situated for my purposes, northern California, than SFO. A much more civilised, because smaller, airport, with by US standards, very pleasant and polite immigration staff. They seemed to have missed out on the removal of sense of humour training that I had thought was compulsory.

      BTW “Frankfurt Weeze” is confused. Frankfurt is Hahn, Weeze is north of Düsseldorf, quite close to the Dutch border. When I was last there it clearly aimed a lot of its marketting across the border.

      HHN has been owned by FRA for some years – I doubt if they would have bought it if they did not think they could make it pay. A quick look at the Ryanair site shows that much of their traffic is to Spanish holiday resorts, though they still serve EDI, STN and NQY[1], plus DUB and Kerry in Ireland. There is some wonderful countryside for walking etc immediately around HHN, and the Mosel Valley, for cycling and wine tasting is only a short distance away.

      [1] Shoestring could do us a nice review!

    • That was the BA problem I think. A search for SF did not return Oakland options.

  10. OT as bits, my 2000 points for staying two nights at another Marriott brand have started to be credited.

  11. OT. I’m off to Japan next week for the first time. Any tips on drawing cash from ATMs?

    I understand the ones at the airport and in Seven Eleven take foreign cards.

    I was planning to use Halifax Clarity MC, Monzo, and Curve linked to my Lloyds Avios MC with the currency set to Yen.

    Are these all likely to work?

    • Zana711 says:

      Assuming that you’re flying into Narita? My experience was that all the foreign banks ATM worked with no issues plus Seven Bank. (I used a Citibank one at Narita). Around Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and most large Tokyo towns, I used Japan Post bank more, as I found that their ATMs will allow you to withdraw in smaller denominations, which was really handy if I needed smaller bills. Seven Bank (inside Seven Eleven stores) typically only allow you to withdraw 10,000 yen increments, as those machines seem to only store 10,000 yen bills. Only ever tried Monzo and HSBC cards.

      https://www.jp-bank.japanpost.jp/en/ias/en_ias_index.html

      • Many thanks. Yes, flying to NRT (in First 🙂 thanks to Rob and others) and then taking the train down to Osaka same day. Good to know that Monzo works. Also good to know about JP for small bills.

        If anyone knows about Curve would be good to hear.

        I assume that places that don’t take credit cards won’t take Curve either, but it could be useful for drawing some cash against my Lloyds MC. I guess I’m going to need to carry a fair bit of cash.

  12. OT Morrisons – 10p/L petrol discount not generated by petrol purchase, 8k points bonus coupon from checkout also not generated. On the upside they have some new self scan machines that are like the ones often seen at M&S food and don’t have scales, so have just bought 10x £25 Netflix and 2x£100 Amazon to make use of 10% off Amex offer and took only seconds to do so 🙂

  13. Shoestring says:

    O/T reports elsewhere that doing online check-in for all those Iberia flights you’re not going to take still generates tier points and Avios (for flight not flown).

    Could be wrong/ clawed back/ a one-off – certainly seems intuitively incorrect – but must be worth a go.

  14. Jonathan says:

    Very OT, does anyone have any experience of emirates my family – pooling of skywards miles? Does it work like the ba family account?

  15. Bonglim says:

    O/T travelling out of ORD today – from terminal 5 (BA business class)
    Wondering which lounge it the best to choose (Have priority pass?)
    It’s my first time in Chicago.
    Thanks!

  16. My Iberia account is -90,000 avios! Moved them to baec

  17. Nigel Williams says:

    OT – Rob – has H4P heard of any plans for the newly revised Amex Gold / Rose Gold to come over to the UK?

    The new revamped cost / rewards look quite decent, especially for those that already carry a Plat for lounge access etc.

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